Mattis And Bannon Clash Over ‘Never Trump’ Pentagon Staffer

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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Secretary of Defense James Mattis is clashing with White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon over the appointment of a high level Pentagon staffer, Foreign Policy reports.

The dispute largely focuses over who should fill the job of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, a critical staffing role. Mattis reportedly wants to fill the job with Bush pentagon veteran Mary Beth Long, while the White House wants Trump pentagon transition staffer Mira Ricardel to hold the job.

The job is being temporarily filled by an Obama administration hold-over until either side emerges victorious in the spat.

The White House’s chief objection to Long centers on her signature of an infamous “never trump” letter in March of 2016. “We are united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency,” the letter flatly declared. “As committed and loyal Republicans, we are unable to support a Party ticket with Mr. Trump at its head. We commit ourselves to working energetically to prevent the election of someone so utterly unfitted to the office,” the letter continued.

Long later recanted her opposition to Trump, telling NPR that she publicly changed her position on Trump in the lead-up to election, but had changed her “mind recently on the letter.”

Trump’s transition team did not make many entreaties to signatories of two “never trump” letters circulated during the campaign. “It’s not just that we’re frozen out. … I was told they said there was an enemies list,” one signatory to the letter told The Washington Post.

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Saagar Enjeti